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THE CAPTURED FUGITIVE AND THE
A Clergyman in regular standing in the Churches cannot pray publicly for the Freedom of a Fugitive Slave.
A SLAVE sat in prison not far from the monument of Bunker Hill, and wishing to be free from bondage, he sent a messenger to request of the Clergy of the city in which his prison was, to pray that he might be set at liberty; but if that might not be, that he might at least bear his afflictions patiently.
And the messenger went first to a Bishop, whom he found seated in a richly furnished study, reading the Missionary Herald. And the Bishop saluted him graciously, and gave him a seat. And as the messenger beheld what the Bishop was reading, he asked what tidings he found.
Good tidings, said the Bishop. For the souls of the heathen are saved in vast numbers, and the Church of the Lord receives daily increase in foreign lands.
We have a soul in prison who asks your prayers in the church on the morrow, that he too may be saved, said the messenger.
Poor soul, said the Bishop, with a sigh. What is his crime?
His crime is two-fold, said the messenger. He is black, and he is a fugitive slave.
I cannot pray for him, said the Bishop. I preach Christ and him crucified. My business is with the Gospel, and not with fugitive slaves.
And the holy man turned with indignation to the Missionary Herald, to read over again the list of the saved in the South Sea islands.
The messenger went his way, wondering whether it would not be well to preach Christ in the person of the slave crucified between the North and the South.
He next visited the minister of an evangelical Church, asking his prayers for the slave, as he had before asked those of the Bishop. And the minister looked musingly in his face for a moment, and then said sharply: I do not pray for slaves, unless it be that they may obey their masters.
So the messenger went his way; and trusting in the righteousness of his cause he called on still another clergyman of unexceptionable orthodoxy, and made known to him the slave's wishes. But this latter turning to him said: I would pray for Anthony with pleasure; but I have just come among this people, and I know not how they stand in this matter.
Pray, then, said the messenger, that strength be given him to bear his bondage patiently.
I dare not, replied the minister.
Then verily, said the other, you have need of the bondman's prayers, for surely you are a greater slave than he.
The messenger said to himself, as the door of the minister's house closed hastily after him: Has God deserted the land that no one can pray to him in behalf of the slave? But at last he remembered an Infidel who preached the Gospel of Humanity, and he wondered if he would dare pray for the captive, and if the Lord would listen to an Infidel's supplications. So he went forthwith to the Infidel Preacher, and asked him if he would lift up his voice in public prayer for the bondman.
And the Preacher said: As I hope for mercy, I will ask it for Anthony.
And when he gathered with his hearers to worship the God of Humanity, he prayed aloud and publicly that the fugitive slave might be made free. And all the People said, Amen.
And the God of Humanity, who rules alike the atoms and the worlds, heard his prayer, and loosed the bondman's chain.
THE FUGITIVE CHURCH-MEMBER.
In the South, Church-members will run away from the means of Grace.
A SLAVE on a southern plantation becoming weary with bondage, and having his soul awakened to the blessings of liberty, seized the favorable moment, and made his escape to a northern free state. But his master coming in pursuit of him, with the aid of a detachment from the army and navy of the Union, took him captive once more, and the slave returned with a heavy heart to his first servitude. The master, however, fearing lest his servant should again escape, sold him to friends in the North, who gave money for his ransom, and he became at last, after much tribulation, a free man. Now the slave had been a member of a church, such as exists in the South, where the more favored and distinguished saints in the body of Christ, hold the more humble as property. Wishing for an honorable separation from his church, the emancipated bondman wrote to his brethren for a letter of dismissal and recommendation, that he might enter another church in the home of his adoption. But when his request reached its desti
nation, it excited great indignation in the bosom of his former pastor, and in the hearts of the brethren. And they unanimously refused his request, and the pastor wrote back in reply as follows:
TO ANTHONY: Your impudence and sinfulness in asking an honorable dismissal from our church, of which you were once a member, is without a parallel in ecclesiastical annals. Whoever heard before of a fugitive servant asking for an honorable dismission from the church from which he has run away? Have you so ill learned Christ as to think that a fugitive from his master's service can be looked upon by him with approbation? Why, Christ came into the world to establish a Reign of Love-a true Brotherhood. And how can there be a brotherhood among men unless the laws of true social order be observed? We all have our functions as members of Christ's body. Some must be feet; some, hands; and some, heads. The heads should own the feet and hands. Your earthly master was a head, and you were a foot. You both belonged to the body of Christ under this relation, and you both understood it. But what do I behold? The foot becomes dissatisfied and runs away from the head, and nothing can restore the foot to its proper connection, but the army and navy of our glorious Union! Nothing can keep the members of our church in unity but the strong arm of the government!
Have I labored with you so long to no purpose? Have I not instructed you over and over again,